tv [untitled] CSPAN July 1, 2009 1:00am-1:30am EDT
i have been given flexibility by my chain of command, to make decisions based on the situation, and i want to make certain that we have enough forces underground to make certain there is a good election, credible elections in january. we will see a drawdown between now and then, and i have a decision -- we will make decisions for the end of the year, and i will make formal decisions after the election. we will see a drawdown of the soldiers between march and april of next year. >> when you say that this is significant, can you say anything about this at all? >> we will get down to 50,000 people by the end of september. that is what you just said when
you asked the question. we will go down to about 110 or 115,000. . when it to win? -- when to when? >> again, i several decision points. i will make those as we go forward. we have 131,000 on the ground. there will be some left between now and december. probably i expect we will be around 120,000 by december. that could change, because i have some flexibility based on how things go here on the ground. then what i expect is between, after the elections are over, we will reduce our presence further, probably going somewhere between 115,000 down to 50,000. >> can you give us your latest assessment of iranian influence
in iraq? training, funding, weapons, have you seen any change in that streak processing in a run? >> we continue to still see training going on inside of a run. we still see weapons moving from iran into iraq. iran into iraq. we have not seen any adjustments made sense the problem with the elections in iran. they are maintaining themselves in a steady state. >> you have a sense that the iranians are positioning themselves for further action? there is the dramatic instances over past years. what appears to be the running game plan? >> -- to be the i iranian game plan? >> what we have seen is a bit of
a slowdown of support. i would like to say that has to do with the pressure that we have put on. we have made it difficult. we have been able to go actor and reconcile with some of the groups said they initially were supporting. we unable to go after some of the sarah gets. i think that has contributed. they realize that in february of this year that some of their strategy was failing. they fought against the security agreement. it was signed. the candidates that they were looking for support did not do well. following that, they have done a bit of review of their strategy. however, they are still training and providing some weapons. i believe they might also be tried to do more sought influence in iraq as well.
>> what kind of concerns to you have regarding the situation in the north? there is the al qaeda presence, the central government in baghdad? >> one of the problems are the arab tensions. what we have seen is that we do have a un process that has begun. if they have had several meetings already between the kurdish government in the government of iraq. they have been trying to go through this disputed territory. that is a positive step forward. that is being led by the united nations here. we think that has some potential. in the meantime, we are trying to continue to make sure they understand that they solve their problems through negotiation, not to the use of violence.
we have stayed in contact with all parties to ensure that tensions do not rise. we spend quite a bit of time on that. i still believe that al qaeda has been significantly degraded here in iraq. as we have seen, over the last few weeks, and they are capable of attacks. there are attacks -- there is one of the casa -- one up in kaza -- they are not been in -- they went to some stock places in iraq. that will backfire over them in time. the iraqi citizens have really raised their intentions. al qaeda continues to kill innocent people for no apparent reason. this is just to it and to incite more violence. what has been positive about this is the iraqi people have not moved to any type of
retaliation. we have not seen any movement toward secretary in the strike between any groups. government leaders in iraq have come out and made very clear statements condemning these attacks, blaming al qaeda, blaming these extremist elements. frankly, their support will continue to wane. we continue to work very hard working with the iraqi security forces. they are going after al qaeda who is attending to reestablish themselves in a bigger way in northern iraq. we are working there. we are working with them. part of that is out in the jazz era desert and other places. we continue to work that very hard. we are also working hard to shut down the borders to make it difficult for them to flow in from syria. that has been reduced significantly. we worked very hard to make sure that continue to be very difficult for them to execute. >> talking about the tensions
between the central government of baghdad, how you see the future? >> it is a regional force. it is a force that right now is responsible for security for the krg. there is discussions that it will be two divisions. that is part of the negotiations of iran going. we are looking to see how that goes out. that will be part of the discussions that the krg has with the government of iraq. >> i have a couple of questions. what mr. >> did the american public use in july as the view iraq to decide whether it was
reported move? and then i have a second question. >> the master >> i look at our, is live looking at overall stability -- the metrics i look at is overall stability. it is a combination of high- profile attacks that occur. it is a combination of some political progress. eight is the ability of the rockiraqi force to take stabiliy and initiative. may was the lowest among the incident here. june is going along similar lines. the problem with june is over the last 10 days, there were a few high-profile attacks. that changes is a little bit. if you compare back to the dark days of 2006 and 2007, there is
no comparison. there is not widespread violence here and i iraq. there are points of high-profile attacks. the unfortunate part is that if has inflicted some high casualties and the civilian population. we still have hard work to do. >> on the most recent violence, forgive me if you are misquoted, but there are reports saying that you attributed some of the most recent violence in iraq to iranian influence. if that is the case, what specific evidence is there that iran had a hand? >> what i said was that the event has been aqi. there has been in ian increase
in project has over the last few weeks. these are two signature elements of groups that have been trained in iran and to have been equipped money to perform these attacks from iran. that was the basis of my comment. in fact, in the high-profile attacks that occurred -- what i said is, there is some indication, that might have been an accident, where some surrogate groups are trying to move ammunition around inside of solder city. it blew up all their moving it around. -- inside of cedar city -- sader city. if low of while they were moving it. >> it is no longer the war in iraq that is the priorities. what is your concern specifically about the
potential for troops understandably getting a little demoralized over the next 80 months, feeling that they and i rack are now fighting the forgotten war? >> i look at it differently. i look at it as a positive. i believe it is because of the progress that we have made here. because of the progress, we solve bilateral security agreement with the government that outlined the way it did this. the first step was today, the withdrawal from the cities, which follows up with our complete withdrawal of our troops by the end of 2011. as president obama came on and be conducted another review, a decision was made that will and combat operations on the 31 august of 2010.
i believe those decisions were made because of the progress that we are making. the progress and security and progress of the iraqi security forces. our soldiers look at it as progress. the fact that our insistence are way down, we are seeing iraqi's get more and more control. they are doing more and more. we see it as a very positive development, not one of a forgotten war, but one of success that we have had over the last couple of years. hopefully, we will continue that success as the transition that is the challenge we have between now and the end of 2011. we continue this success as we transition.
>> there is a school of thought that the war is far from over and military invasion will be necessary through 2011, that we are a long way from political stability. i seem to recall that earlier in the year you were quoted, perhaps incorrectly, to a similar effect. i am wondering what your prognosis is going forward in terms of the ability of the country to become more stable. >> i believe the country is moving in the right direction. i think the election is coming up at the end of january -- in january and it is very important. that government that is formed will be during very formative ties. those four years will define where iraq is headed over the next four years ago.
i believe stability will move forward. that is an important miltone. the iraqi people choose the next government. if we continue twith the progress, i believe if the conditions are set, of they will continue to move forward. they could potentially reach what we consider to be a secure and stable iraq by two dozen 11. the statement is a bit of a the statement is a bit of a context, because there are two issues. there is concern about the tie in themselves against foreign influence. i am confident that that are able to defend themselves internally by 2011.
what might take longer is the development of the navy and the airforce in order for them to protect their air and their territorial waters. that does not mean that we have to help them, there are others that can do this. this decision has to be made further down the road. the comments were taken out of context because what i said, it was based on these capabilities. >> as u.s. troops consolidate basis, do you worry that their movements become more predictable and they become easier to target with things like ied's? >> we have not just consolidated back on big bases. we have many outposts around the cities that we have established as we conducted the surge.
we have not just come back into a small number of big basis. we still occupy hundreds of small outposts. we have to resupply in the cities and moved to conduct some ordination, clearly, we will continue to do all the things we do now. we will clear the routes. we will walk with the security forces to coordinate and help us. we have been doing this for a while. i feel comfortable we will continue to do it. it is not the same as being in the city. we will work her way through this brita there is a big concern about that, yes. >> looks like we commit to round up to 2. >> one in the conditions of the military has really been to move down the sectarian rivalry that
existed. how convinced are you that the military has advanced to a professional level, a disciplined level, of where those old rivalries that have pretty much dominated the way security forces had performed for decades -- how convince are you that those will not rise up again and create the kind of retribution we had seen? >> that is a great question. i would assay that we have seen the confidence of the forces has grown tremendously since the beginning. this is the dark days of 2006. what we have seen is the army grow professionally. we have seen them conduct operations across the country in
a non sectarian way. the biggest improvement of any force here in the last two years has been in the national police. they have brought in new leadership. they have gone through a significant amount of training. they are seen as a legitimate and credible force that conducts non-sectarian operations around iraq. i call them. the local police is the one we probably worry about the most. that is why we have not turned over security yet to the local police. they are the ones that might be influenced locally and politically. they have made great progress as well but not as much. what i have seen is the professionalism of the national police, the professionalism of the iraqi army, is significantly better than it was 2.5 years ago. i would be unfaithful vice said it was 100% across the boards.
it might not be. the large majority has really move forward. i believe them causing sectarian problems is much -- the chance of that is much less today than it has been ever before. >> is there a bigger threat than outside influences, like al qaeda? >> i worry about the political drivers of instability. it is arab/kurd political issues that might rise. it is political issues that could rise. it is intra-sunni issues that could cause some attention. it is those political issues that we have watched very carefully. what i have said earlier is that we hope they will resolve those through diplomatic discussions,
etc. and not good to violence. that is what they have been doing for the large part. there is no reason for me to think that will not continue. we watch it very closely. we watched those indicators. one of the things we watch carefully is a return to any type of sectarian activity. we will watch if we see an increase in sectarian activity. we will watch if we see those indicators of insurgent groups returning at a higher level. we will work very closely. we will talk on a daily basis with the minister of defense, interior, and the operational commanders here. we want to ensure we understand what these indicators are. >> one of the untold stories during the surge was the special
operations unit. this was against al qaeda leaders. they were going after the leaders. will we continue throwing this or will it be turned over to iraqi commando forces? >> we have worked this very heart. we have began to be transparent and all our counter-terrorism operations. we have been doing that now for several months. we join operations with the rocky -- with iraqi forces. we now have an iraqi group who is dealing with our technical and analytica partners to help s develop targets. we have been building this partnership for a while. i believe we will be able to
continue with these operations jointly. i feel pretty confident about that. >> you lost for two soldiers yesterday. -- you loss four soldiers is to be. are you concerned about there being fewer americans walking around in baghdad that they are more attractive targets? >> obviously, we lost four soldiers last night in baghdad. it is always tough when we lose soldiers here. actually, this did not happen in the city. it was outside of the city. what i would say is -- that is when the signatures that we have to look at. if we have less movement, will
the target specifically u.s. soldiers? we have not seen that yet, but obviously, we work very closely. we will continue to work closely with our security force partners in order to make sure and limit the risk. under the secured agreement, we have the right to self-defense. if we see there is a problem, we will have to rework with the government of iraq to ensure we are able to actively protect our men and women. we will do everything we can to protect them. >> how would you do that? would you pick the phone and call an iraqi counterpart and say look what happened last night? we have to change the terms of that operation? we do on the micro level? are you talking about something more formal? >> what we would do is locally, the brigade and division commanders will be working on
it. we think it needs something bigger, then we will work with the minister of defence. it depends on the situation. we will work that with them. we have built strong relationships with all the iraqi leaders. we will use those relationships to work out these issues. >> last time, you are surprised by syria operations in securing the borders and stopping the infiltration. do you still have the same assessment regarding serious role with iraq? -- with syria's role with iraq? >> they had done something recently that was encouraging.
they picked a few individuals up that were involved with foreign fighter facilitation. that is very encouraging. i am hoping as we continue to engage, we will work through these issues and assist in continuing to taqmmp down the facilitation that is coming through syria. >> last time you were here physically, you mentioned that you expected a low level insurgency to continue beyond 2011. what is a low-level insurgency look like? >> i think how i feel is that there will be some small cells and groups that are dispersed, not able to coordinate with each other, but they are still willing to conduct a pact in order to make their political
points or in order to create some local and stability to gain influence. i think that is how i would best describe it. >> cells -- you mean al qaeda? >> they could be al qaeda. they could be shia extremists. in they could be sunni extremists. i expect to be very small, not connected, not have a lot of robust ability -- capabilities, but would be able to conduct some attacks and activities over time. i think we have to have the iraqi security forces prepared to deal with this type of threat. >> we have time for about one more. can we close it? >> i just wondered if you could tell us something of your personal feelings today.
you are division commander. now you are at the top commander. as you watch the developments today and all of the cell of return -- celebrations in ceremonies, what had been your feelings and overall dominick thoughts? reap -- a dominant thought? >> i appreciate that question. i think back to 2006 when i first got here as a port commander. the violence was so high that it was hard to see a way out, but today was just another sign that i have a lot of hopes that iraq will be able to move
forward as a secure and sovereign iraq. they could be a long-term partner with the united states who has a democratic government. today gives me more hope for that. i see them take a more more responsibility and they want to take on that responsibility. the iraqi people want the forces to take that on. if they want to see a smooth out. they want to see it move in the back room. they are not ready for us to go yet, but they are ready for us to allow them to attend to exercise their security responsibilities. to me that is very encouraging. frankly, the last six months have gone a bit better than i expected. i thought the first six months of implementing the security agreement would be a very difficult thing. it has not.
we have worked together and we continue to move forward and the terms of the security agreement. that is what is the hope and belief that we can do this now beyond, now that we have moved out of the city. they are still going to be bumps in the road. there are still going to be violence. there is still going to be problems. i think that we are going to be able to work through the. i am encouraged by that. i am encouraged by that. i i think the elections will be a big step in accomplishing that. i feel more encouraged by what i have seen today, i feel more encouraged about where we are headed. it will take about 45 days to get an honest assessment on where i think we are. do we have to adjust to this in any way